Doyle was standing under the bright hue of the street lights on 52nd street. He leaned on a stop sign and lit a cigarette. In front of him was a monolith of a dark building with one window lit up. That window belonged to Amy McPherson, the daughter and sole heir to the McPherson newspaper empire. She lived in the very top penthouse on the thirtieth floor. She was not the nicest of people, never married, had no children, and was almost always discussed as one of the homeliest women in America by gossip rags.
Amy McPherson was on her death bed.
Doyle felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked over and saw Jerry was behind him. Doyle smiled, patted Jerry’s hand.
“So that's where the old biddy lives?” Jerry said.
Doyle drew in the smoke from his cigarette, exhaled it out in a long sigh. “That's her, yes. The one and only Amy McPherson. Meanest bitch in the city. The one who once beat a Salvation Army charity worker with her cane for asking for donations.”
Jerry nodded. “A real sweet heart.” He stepped up on the sidewalk from the empty street, turned the collar from his trench coat up around his neck. “You sure you can do this?”
Doyle shrugged, made a noise in the back of his throat. “Yeah.” He tossed the cigarette behind him. “One more time, Jerry. Then we will be set for life.”
“We have enough to settle down with. She's the third rich asshole who has signed over their will to us. We can catch that plane to Honolulu. You don't have to do this ”
“I know. Might as well go through with it to prove to myself I can do it three times in one year.” Doyle told him.
Jerry looked at his watch. “I guess we should get started.” He took a white collar from his trench coat pocket, carefully fixed it around his neck.
Doyle came over and made sure it was straight. He nodded, said, “Oh yes. Looking good Father West.”
“Thank you, brother Doyle.”
Doyle had a special talent.
Every since he had a near death experience six years ago, that talent was discovered. After a car crash that landed him in a crowded hospital, Doyle found out that not only could he die and come back, he could carry souls to Heaven.
That night he died the first time, he was laying in a hospital bed next to a man dying of cancer.
Just as Doyle slipped into what he described to Jerry: “A white light that seemed to suck me in, I realized I had someone attached to me. I looked over my shoulder and saw the old man who was in the bed next to mine. I panicked. There was nothing I could do though. I was on my way. I carried that old frail man to the pearly gates. At least I think that’s where I took him. I didn't really see any pearly gates. Just more bright lights and a warm feeling. I felt good about what I did. And he thanked me...oh, no...i didn't hear a word from him. I didn't even see his lips move. I just left that bright light knowing he was thankful.”
When Doyle came to, the old man was no longer in that bed beside him. They'd taken the sheets, pillow and scrubbed the floor around the bed.
Three years later, he met Jerry. Jerry's mother was dying and a friend suggested Jerry talk to Doyle. After Doyle helped Jerry's mother to the beyond, their friendship became more intimate. Out of this love for Jerry and to help him out of debt, they convince the ones dying who can afford it, to sign over their wills. Jerry pretends to be a man of whatever religion the marks are, and Doyle does the rest.
Doyle has a heart condition. Jerry incites a heart attack by taking away Doyle 's prescribed heart medicine. After the job is done, Jerry brings Doyle back by pounding on his chest and using a portable Cardioversion Machine, and electrodes will shoot small dosages of electricity to jump start his heart.
The apartment was immaculate.
After a doorman showed them in and a night guard carried them up in the elevator to Amy's golden palace.
And it was just that, set up to be a palace of some kind, works of art from all over the world, furniture from every part of man's history. Doyle and Jerry were shown to Amy McPherson's bedroom by a emotionless servant girl. When Jerry began to say a mock prayer, the woman turned to him with the same plain face, no smile or frown, no questioning eyes. She only let out a loud sigh and pushed open the bedroom door.
There she lay upon white silk sheets with white blankets on a white canopy bed. Amy rolled her head gingerly toward them. With a crooked finger, she motioned for them to approach.
Her lawyer Lucian Daniels stood beside the bed, a binder of papers under his folded arms. His gray suit was perfectly prim and his dark hair had so much oil it was oozing down his neck. He faked a smile at Jerry and Doyle. He moved a hand to adjust the large rimmed glasses on the bridge of his nose.
“Show time,” Jerry whispered to Doyle as they walked slowly toward Amy. Doyle smiled hugely at Jerry, stifled a laugh.
“I'm Lucian Daniels, Ms. McPherson’s lawyer. I'm here to make sure everything goes off with a hitch, as they say.” He took Jerry's hand firmly, but did not shake hands with Doyle. He only grunted in his direction. “I'm a little baffled Father, that you are into spiritualism.”
“I'm not a psychic,” Doyle said. “I'm a vessel to heav---”
“Yes,” Daniels cut him off. “I read your pamphlet. Frankly, sir, I believe it's bollocks.”
“Look,” Jerry intervened. “It matters not our beliefs, Mr. Daniels,” Jerry took Daniels by the elbow and led him away from Doyle. “We are here for Ms. McPherson. Her time in need, is that not true? Help her achieve peace, any way we can?”
Daniels nodded. “Yes, if you say so Father. I am here for her protection.” He shot a cold look over to Doyle. “No one will take advantage of Ms. McPherson. Understood?”
“Exactly,” Doyle said.
“Why....is...there so...much talking, Lucian....?” Amy said. Her voice was very weak, every breath labored, even speaking is a a chore. “Let's begin this.....”
Reluctantly, Daniels took the binder from his arms and opened it up to the legal documents drawn up as a will. He walked over to Doyle, handed the papers to him. “This document is binding,” He said in a threatening tone.
Doyle signed without taking his eyes off Daniels. He handed the papers back to him. “I will take her to heaven. I promise.”
Daniels laughed. “That, my friend will be a rough ride. In fact, I doubt those pearly gates will open for Ms. McPherson.”
Jerry was stunned by Lawyer's words. “Surely Ms. McPherson can be judged so harshly, even by her friends.”
“Ohhhh...I am not her friend, Father. I am her employee. When there was merger between her company and Diamond communications, my wife was dying in a hospital bed from a car wreck. I was not allowed time off from those meetings. She died without holding my hands.” His eyes rolled toward Doyle. “Personally I don't care if you take all of her money and not give her safe passage to heaven. But I signed a contract to get whatever she wants. And I am beholden to that binding contract, even after the bitch is gone.”
A low whining crackle came from Amy. Just the burst of laughter ended, a wheezing coughing spell almost started the dying process. But Amy held on, recovered quickly, or at least long enough to throw her two cents in.
“Lucian, you are a card,” She breathed out those words. “My trusted number one employee....you know if only you had a backbone you could have tended to your wife properly. I would have let you off, I just wanted you to fight for it.”
Doyle gave Jerry the look and Jerry cleared his throat.
“I'm sorry,” He flashed a smile. “We need to clear Ms. McPherson's soul.”
“Clear her soul? What does that entail?” Daniels chuckled, shook his head.
“A confession to the Father.” Doyle interjected. “It's apart of the process.”
“Of course it is. I'm not going anywhere,” Daniels frowned at Doyle. “I'm watching everything you do.”
Doyle began to speak, Jerry put up his hand. “That's fine,” Jerry told them both. “Ms. McPherson needs solace from others as well. Clearing of the soul, I must warn you, can be an upsetting event.”
Daniels kept staring at Doyle. He wasn’t sizing him up anymore, he was making plans for him. Doyle had seen that look a lot in his life. Every time he was getting involved with a bar fight, or when his father was going to beat him for whatever crime he had committed before the beatings, or when he was bullied in high school by Tom Carmody, the first boy he ever had a crush on.
Yes, Daniels was making plans for him.
His attention was drawn back to Amy and Jerry. Jerry was definitely giving the best performance his ever done as a priest. Much better than the first time they tried this. Last year, was not only the first time Jerry played a priest, it was the first time he witnessed Doyle taking the dead's soul to the other side.
When Doyle was done taking Mr. Lassiter for his celestial ride, Jerry was freaked out about the whole thing, more so bringing Doyle back to life.
On the way home, Jerry had to ask him “Did you ever take any one to hell?”
Doyle stopped the car at a stop light. He didn’t answer right away. He had a distressed look on his face.
He bobbed his head up and down quickly. “Yeah,” Doyle whispered. “Once.”
“Who was it?” Jerry asked, shocked.
“My Father.” Doyle' s upper lip poked out a bit in a quiver. “After I turned his respirator off.”
“It was in the fifth grade....” Amy said. Her voice cracked, her breathing was even more labored.
Doyle made his way over and took her other hand, Jerry already had her right hand in his hands. He was mouthing a fake prayer. Doyle moved his eyes away from Amy and Jerry to meet the cold hard stare from Daniels, who by now was seated in a chair a few feet from Amy's bed.
“Marrisa Buck was the prettiest girl in class. She would not be my friend for any reason at all.
“She kept a Suzy Q doll in her desk. When the teacher told us to go out and play, I stayed behind, hiding in the broom closet. Mrs. Walters left for the lunchroom. I took that Suzy Q doll and ran behind the school. I destroyed that doll with a loose brick I found.
“Pieces of plastic lay all over the black top of the basketball court. I....I ….felt horrible....” Amy began to weep, but that was cut short.
Her eyes rolled in the back of her head, her body jumped, her hands clutched Jerry and Doyle' s. Daniels bolted from his seat. He didn't move any further than the chair. He was stunned, the event was happening to quick for him.
Doyle felt weak, his eyelids fluttered.
The light was bright. He was sailing through a cold, dominant wind. He felt something heavy clinging to his naked body. He looked behind him, saw a hands clutching his shoulders. The hands belonged to Amy. They were digging into the soft pink skin, her face was full of confusion and guilt, remorse.
Then the face changed. It was Jerry's face. He was looking at Doyle, screaming like he was in severe pain. The face changed again. For a spit second, Doyle saw his Father's angry face. The cheeks were bloated, eyes bulging out, skin a deep red.
The face disappeared.
Darkness took over the bright light. Instead of a sucking sound from the wind, he heard screams. Terrible, tortured screams. He was surrounded by glowing red eyes. Ice cold hands were grasping at Doyle.
He knew where he was.
He tried to run. It was no good, he was stuck in place, like his feet were glued down.
Daniels was standing over top of Jerry. He was pale, a cold sweat was dripping from his fat face.
“What the hell happened?” Daniels said.
He heard Amy moving around in her bed. “Am I in heaven?” She whispered faintly.
Jerry had tears streaming down his cheeks. The portable Cardioversion Machine fell from his hands. He was holding Doyle tightly in his arms.
“He died,” Jerry said. “He died.”